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Fixing up a house requires updating and upgrading many of its features. You must see and find the better house in the house that you already own. In a similar way your marriage relationship may require you to identify and update many of its features and find the better things in what God has already given you.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.Ephesians 5: 25-26
1. Learn how to speak their love language
Learn what love language you and your spouse speak
In the international bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman reveals 5 love languages that he identified through counseling. This is a book that I would highly recommend as I find it relatable and fun. The 5 love languages are listed below:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
For example, it is like trying to tell someone that you love them who literally speaks a different language. You may both love each other, but are expressing it in ways that neither of you can understand.
Also, consider a couple talking over two-way radios that are tuned to different channels. Both parties may be talking clearly, but neither is getting the message on their receiver.
Learn how to appreciate your spouse’s love language
We all have different dialectics of love languages
We all express love in our own ways based on our past experiences and personalities. Possibly, someone significant to you never used words of affirmation so now you value this form of expressing love. Maybe someone significant to you always showed love through acts of service, now you do the same. Although we may use all of the love languages, we all have a primary love language that we speak.
For example, my father, who loved all his children very much, never said it! Growing up, I don’t ever remember hearing him say that he loved me or was proud of me. As a result of this I go out of my way to give words of affirmation. I will tell my girls that I love them and when they do something good, or that I am proud of them. Therefore, I have a tendency to primarily express love in this manner.
Whereas my primary love language is words of affirmation, my wife’s is quality time. Stopping what I am doing and giving her my undivided attention is the best way for me to show her that I love her. When I show her love in this way, she gets it because I am speaking her language now.
We all have a tendency to filter everything through our own love language
It is as if we don’t recognize love that is not expressed in our native primary language. However, there is value in seeing the love that your spouse is showing you through their own language. It may be that your spouse shows love by giving gifts because that is their language. In realizing this you can better appreciate the love that your spouse has for you.
You may think that because your spouse is not showing love in your language, then they are not loving you. This could be completely wrong, since they may be showing love to you in their own way. In seeing this, you become aware of just how much your spouse does love you after all. You are just filtering their actions through your own language.
Learn to become fluent in their language
The best way to learn a foreign language is to practice it. Once you identify what love language your spouse speaks, you then can start to learn their dialect. If your spouse shows love by acts of service, you can learn to show love through acts of service. Even though you may usually show love through physical touch, you can learn to show love in giving gifts. You can learn to speak in the love language of your spouse and make your marriage more meaningful to the both of you.
2. Discover the good in the person your spouse is
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:Ephesian 4: 15
Marriage reveals the power of truth
All your faults are exposed in the act of being married in ways that are not possible in any other relationship. You know each other better than anyone else in the world. Marriage pulls the covers off all your faults and failings. Perhaps others that are close to you may have known some of your faults and perhaps marriage reveals some that no one else knows. The following is a list of things that marriage can reveal.
- Moral failings
In living together and sharing everything, you learn all the ugly parts of each other. You even learn the parts that you tried to hide when you were dating. You discover the stranger in your spouse, the parts of the person that know one else knows. It is in this way that you become an instrument of truth to your spouse. You may even have to confront your spouse in love about their sin.
It is therefore, in the design of marriage to make you a better person by exposing the hidden parts of who you are. In the marriage relationship, you are in an incredible position of vulnerability that is only topped by the relationship of Christ and the Church. It is like a miniature version of the judgment seat of Christ where all things are open and exposed to the person who loves us the most.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.Hebrews 4: 13
Marriage expresses the power of love
Love has an unbelievable power of healing and forgiveness that is unmatched in any other relationship in this world.
- To love inspite of knowing all your faults and failures
- To love through the recovery of mistakes and missteps
- To love when you are hurt and damaged
Love has the power to change who you are as a person. If your husband thinks you are beautiful, then it does not matter what anyone else thinks.
This is a love that causes not only your spouse to change, but you. Marriage is a means of making you like Jesus. Marriage is a vehicle that carries you to a destination of being more like the Lord.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:Phillipians 1: 6
The new person that you desire can be found in the spouse that you already have
God made us to find the best possible mate, but in marriage you have the person that God wants you to have. Through his Grace and purposes you can find the person who is the perfect match for you in the spouse that God already has given you. Why start over with someone who has their own set of faults and failures, when you have to power to have new start with the one you have?
3. Choose to love your spouse
Love has an expiration date for everyone
As I prepared this lesson, I thought of the inevitable conclusion that you come to realize in marriage, that the feeling of love that you first have for each other has an expiration date. Relationship experts agree (although I have not found the actual studies yet) that the feelings of romance and love at the beginning of a relationship typically wanes between a 2 and 3 years, although it can sometimes last up to 7 years.
However, regardless of the actual facts, we all know that the intense feelings of falling in love become diluted over time. This time could be unique to everyone, but it happens regardless. We have all heard the story of the couple falling out of love.
Most of us get married based on the notion of falling hopelessly in love. You lose control and in passion want the other person so intensely that you commit to spending your lives together. Then life happens, you have a career, you have kids, and you have problems.
Make a deliberate decision to love your spouse
At some point it happens in every marriage relationship that survives, you must make a decision to love your spouse. This is a decision that you must reaffirm everyday as life changes, as you change, and as your spouse changes.
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas worded it in a good way, in his article entitled You Never Marry the Right Person, “The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” You think you know each other when you get married, but soon discover all the things that were hidden. Change is always prevalent and inevitable. Life events, age, and circumstances all work to make changes in you.
It is therefore critical to hold onto the vows you made before God and to each other. It is the vow to love each other for better or for worse. Even when life changes you and your spouse, you can make the decision to still love each other. You can make the decision to renew the romance and love in your relationship as the years pass.
Many people make the mistake of starting over with someone else. Second marriages have an even higher divorce rate than first ones! The person that you need to start over with is the spouse that you already have. This a renewal of love based on the covenant that you have with your spouse. This a shadow of the covenant that God has with the believing sinner.
4. Date like you want another date
Dating is the search for your soul mate
You may have interest in someone and get to know them or about them and the interest goes cold- you don’t want another date with this person. Maybe this person has a past that is unacceptable to you, or a character flaw that you find unattractive.
As the love stories go, your search finally finds that one you are interested in. Another date is schedule and you begin a beautiful journey of getting to know each other and falling hopelessly in love.
Date your spouse
Treat dating your spouse like you want to earn that second date. Put your all into it, like the date that you really want to lead to another date. In dating your spouse you recreate those initial feelings of being in love and pursuing one another. You can relive the falling in love of experience where you lose control in your desire for each other.
5. Learn to share things in common
Notice the interests of your spouse
Pay attention to things that your spouse finds interesting. Listen for the clues that reveal the things that they want to do.
Involve yourself in those interests
Become involved in the things that your spouse is involved in together. For example, you may have to go to play or watch a romantic movie together. Perhaps you could go to a sporting event or watch it together. By discovering the interests of your spouse and involving yourself in them, you can develop things in common.
5 Ways to Update Your Marriage
- Learn how to speak their love language.
- Discover the good in the person your spouse is.
- Choose to love your spouse.
- Date like you want another date.
- Learn to share things in common.